Tag Archives: UK

ANOTHER PLANE?

plastic-334546_960_720-300x200The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers in England has plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge last October, early figures suggest. More than 7bn bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, but this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500m in the first six months after the charge was introduced, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The “carbon footprint” for the pollution caused by UK consumption has increased slightly, official figures show. The amount of greenhouse gases linked to goods and services consumed by UK households, including emissions from the foreign manufacture of imported products, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013, the most recent data shows.

The Glastonbury Festival has  ditched plastic portable toilets after organisers decided they were causing too much anguish. The portable toilets – last year there were 3,000 on site – have been replaced almost entirely by organic compost toilets designed to minimise smells. These are supplemented by open-air “long drop” toilets. The festival management team felt the plastic “Tardis-like” toilet had passed its sell-by date. There was particular concern at how the toilets filled up too quickly and frequently overflowed. Jane Healy, Glastonbury’s sanitation manager, said: “The old plastic Tardis style is gone. Toilets have always been a massive talking point, and no one ever talks about toilets in everyone’s day-to-day life, but as soon as they get to a festival that’s all they want to talk about.

The European Commission has launched the world’s first system for classifying and banning endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), against a barrage of criticism from scientists, NGOs, industry and consumer groups. Endocrines are hormone-altering chemicals common in everyday substances from paint to pesticides that have been linked to an array of illnesses including cancer, infertility, obesity, diabetes, birth defects and reproductive problems. The Guardian reports that attempts to regulate them have been plagued by missed deadlines, buried official papers, censure from EU courts, and US pressure within the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations.

We’re one step away from a glyphosate-free EU. For the third time in a row, member states have refused to back the Commission’s proposed licence extension for weedkiller glyphosate. But the Commission won’t take no for an answer, and will try to force through a last-ditch appeal in Brussels June 24. Otherwise, a whole lot of Monsanto’s Roundup will be coming down from shelves across Europe this year. SumofUs.org tells us that instead of heeding the cancer warnings of the WHO, the European Commission has tried to do Monsanto’s dirty work by pushing through a licence extension despite experts agreeing that a ban of the pesticide is necessary to prevent contamination of our food, water, and soil. Make your voice heard and Tell EU member states to deal the final blow and reject any extension of the glyphosate licence on June 24.

greatapesForest wildfires rampaging across Russia are being significantly under-reported by authorities, according to analysis of satellite data. Climate change is making wildfires much more likely in Russia, but regional officials have been reluctant to report the true extent of the problem, and campaigners are warning that the harm to forests, property and human lives could rise. While the recent forest fires around Fort McMurray, Canada, destroyed more than 580,000 hectares, those in Russia have burned up to 3.5m hectares since the start of 2016, according to Greenpeace Russia. It said at least 1m hectares were in flames at the end of May in the country, which is home to the largest forests in the world.

The Guardian tells us that a UK shale gas company is considering dumping waste water from fracking in the sea, emails from the company show. Ineos, which owns the Grangemouth refinery and holds 21 shale licences, many in the north-west, North Yorkshire and the East Midlands, has said it wants to become the biggest player in the UK’s nascent shale gas industry. In an email sent in March to a resident in Ryedale district, North Yorkshire, where councillors gave the go-ahead to a fracking application by another company in May, a senior executive said that water produced during fracking could be discharged in the sea after being treated. It has not previously said where treated water would be released.

Norway’s parliament has approved a radical goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030, two decades earlier than planned. MPs voted for an accelerated programme of CO2 cuts and carbon trading to offset emissions from sectors such as Norway’s oil and gas industries, which are unlikely to be phased out in the near future. The minority government’s ruling Progress and Conservative parties withdrew their support for the motion at the last minute. But their argument, that ambitious emissions reductions now could interfere with future climate negotiations, was roundly defeated.

Following a series of new heat and melting records in the Arctic, nearly 400 international scientists have called on Barack Obama to rule out further expansion of oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters under US control. The letter, signed by prominent Arctic, marine and climate specialists – including a former member of Obama’s administration, urges the president to rule out any future hunting for oil in the waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. “No new oil and gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future, including in the next five-year leasing plan,” the scientists write in the letter.

coffee-mugs-1387830_960_720“I’ve got a megaphone and I’m not afraid to use it!” yelled Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on BBC One last night as the TV chef-turned eco warrior took his ‘War on Waste’ to the high street coffee shops. The problem: more than 5,000 coffee cups are now thrown away every minute across Britain, but less than 1% of those cups are actually recycled due to complex sorting and contamination issues. So, what’s the solution? More innovative cup designs? Better recycling infrastructure? Consumer behaviour change programmes? Or supply chain collaboration? Listen to edie’s latest podcast episode and read the stories that follow to find out how we can solve the great coffee cup conundrum.

badger-44202_960_720Badgers and cattle never came into close contact during a new field study examining how tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted between the animals. Most TB in cattle is contracted from other cattle but some infections come from badgers. The new research indicates that the disease is not passed on by direct contact, but through contaminated pasture and dung, with potentially significant implications for farm practices such as slurry spreading. It also suggests why TB in cattle is so hard to control even when cattle and badgers are culled, as the bacteria can survive in fields for months. Eradicating TB will require addressing this risk, the new research implies. TB is a serious problem for farmers, with 36,000 infected cattle slaughtered in Britain in 2015 at a cost to the taxpayer of about £100m. One key element of the government’s control programme, England’s controversial badger cull, is set to expand. Foremost experts say this “flies in the face of scientific evidence” and that the cull is a “monstrous” waste of time and money. The new research has not changed their conclusion.

amazon-indians-69589_960_720Plans to build a giant hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest have been halted by Brazil’s environmental protection agency because of mounting concerns about the fate of indigenous communities and wildlife living in the area. The 8,000-megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT) dam would have been the sixth-largest hydroelectric dam in the world, spanning the five-mile wide Tapajós river and drowning 376 sq km (145 sq miles) of rainforest that is home to some 12,000 Munduruku Indians.

Can a house where wood is burned for heat really be called green?  After writing “From the straw bale wrap to the lime plaster finishes, this cottage is as green as it gets” there was a huge amount of comment about the use of wood for heating. “…as green as it gets”? I would like to respectfully disagree. It’s unfortunate that “renewable” is now equated with “clean”, “green”, “healthy”, and “good-for-the-planet”.Yes, wood is renewable, but burning it as fuel has none of these positive attributes. Make up your own mind by reading the article on TreeHugger.

Advertisements

UK to Allow Fracking in National Parks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Derwentwater in the Lake District

UK MPs have voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites. The new regulations – which allow drilling from outside the protected areas  were passed after Ministers used a statutory instrument to push through the new rules, which means legislation can pass into law without a debate in the House of Commons. MPs voted in favour by 298 to 261.  Opposition parties and campaigners criticised the lack of a Commons debate – and accused ministers of a U-turn as they previously pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks. The government said its plans would protect “our most precious landscapes”. It said the UK had “one of the best track records in the world for protecting our environment while developing our industries”. Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy accused ministers of using a “parliamentary backdoor” to try to approve the “weak regulations” without debate. The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, whose constituency includes part of the Lake District, said: “The government’s decision to sneak through a huge change to allow fracking in our national parks without a proper debate is outrageous. They have shown their true colours and complete lack of regard for protecting some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK and its wildlife.”  More on the Guardian here.

ANOTHER PLANET?

airpollutionThe Guardian tells us that pledges by most of the world’s countries on climate change are likely to lead to less than 3C of global warming over the century. The UN praised governments for coming forward with plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, to kick in from 2020 when current commitments expire. The plans from 146 countries that cover nearly 90% of global emissions, known as INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the UN jargon, will form the centrepiece of the make-or-break Paris conference on climate change this December. However, while the plans represent a significant advance on current trends, which would result in as much as 5C of warming if left unchecked, they are not enough in themselves to limit global warming to the 2C threshold that countries are preparing to agree on. This is widely regarded scientifically as the limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change – floods, droughts, heatwaves, sea level rises and more intense storms – are likely to become much more dangerous. However Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela are among the 40 countries who have failed to make their pledges.

The World faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. And since cold is still overwhelmingly produced by burning fossil fuels, emission targets agreed at next month’s international climate summit in Paris risk being blown away as governments and scientists struggle with a cruel climate-change irony: cooling makes the planet hotter.  How America Became Addicted to Air Conditioning.

food wasteFrance’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a measure requiring all supermarkets 400 square feet or larger to donate unsold food to charity, for animal feed, or for farming compost. All grocery stores are banned from purposefully ruining food. “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said Guillaume Garot, the Socialist deputy who sponsored the bill. In the UK supermarket chain Morrisons has become the first supermarket chain to donate all of its surplus edible food to local community groups. The chain will appoint a supermarket ‘champion’ at each store to liaise with local community groups. A trial in 112 stores showed up to four trolley loads of perfectly safe and edible food a week from each shop could be salvaged. Last year supermarkets threw away 180,000 tonnes of food – although up to 100,000 tonnes is turned into biogas.

Check out some shower gel, and it might have lots of little bits in it. Most of the time, these are tiny spheres of plastic called “microbeads.” Designed to scrub your body and remove dead skin, they’re not just found in shower gel – cleaning products, facial scrub, and even toothpaste often contains them too. They might seem harmless and insignificant, but collectively trillions are being washed into our sewers and polluting our rivers and oceans every day. And now scientists want them banned – as the world’s oceans are being filled with microplastic, which is any piece of polymer less than 5 millimeters in size. Normally, these result from the break down by UV light of larger pieces that are floating in the oceans, but microbeads are a separate, distinct issue. No bigger than a grain of sand at around 1 millimeter, microbeads are not something our water treatment plants were designed to filter out from waste water and trillions and trillions are getting into our sewage and water waste and polluting our seas and oceans. MORE HERE.

flickricelandDavid Cameron is poised to launch an ambitious project that could see Britain harnessing the power of Iceland’s volcanoes within the next 10 years.The plan would involve the construction of 750 miles of undersea cabling, allowing the UK to exploit Iceland’s long-term, renewable geothermal energy. Teeming with volcanic activity, Iceland reportedly meets around 95 per cent of its own electricity needs using geothermal sources – but its remote location has made exporting it almost impossible. British officials told the Press Association that the new “UK-Iceland Energy Task Force” had been set up to examine the feasiblity of the scheme and told to report back in six months.

Installation has started  on Europe’s largest floating solar power system which will generate 2.7GWh of renewable, zero carbon energy each year on a reservoir near Manchester. The 12,000-panel system is being developed by water giant United Utilities at the cost of £3.5m. The 45,500 sq.m project will float on the Godley reservoir in Hyde. Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities, said: “We have a target to generate 35% of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim.

Puffin and turtle dove numbers across the globe have plummeted so rapidly the birds now face the same extinction threat as the African elephant and lion, say conservationists. Atlantic puffins and European turtle doves have been added for the first time to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of species at risk of being wiped out. In total, four UK bird species have been added to the new list, doubling to eight the number of bird species commonly seen in Britain now given official “vulnerable” status. A further 14 UK species are considered “near threatened”.

Edie.net reports that business leaders have welcomed the recognition of carbon pricing within the latest draft text of the climate agreement, but concerns remain over the lack of progress on climate finance from richer nations. The final round of preliminary climate negotiations came to a close in Bonn ahead of the crucial Paris Summit in December. A 20-page negotiating document was expanded to 63 pages over the course of the five days. Green groups have commended the progress, considering that at same point before the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, 180 pages of negotiating text had been drawn up.

SOLAR POWERA plan to ‘save the solar industry’ by adding £1 on to UK consumer energy bills has received support from a cross-party coalition of 30 MPs. The plan, proposed by the Solar Trade Association, would significantly reduce the cuts suggested by the Government in its consultation on the Feed-in Tariff. The review seeks to reduce subsidies for small-scale solar to around £7m over the next three years.

The UK’s budget squeeze will mean safe cycle lanes will not be guaranteed by the UK Government, losing out to road building and the new UK rail links and upgrades over the next five years.

Working on an allotment once a week can help tackle band moods, dispel tension and encourage weight loss, a new study has suggested.  The Universities of Westminster and Essex say that allotments provide both physical and mental health benefits – boosting self esteem – and researchers say local authorities should provide more space for allotments.

A new initiative launched has been launched by WRAP to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of the textiles industries across 11 European countries. In partnership with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), WRAP’s European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) has received a €3.6m fund from the European Union’s environmental financial support instrument, EU Life. It aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year in Europe by 2019. WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “Finding more sustainable ways to work with textiles is an area set to deliver huge benefits – both economic and environmental.

A controversial €100m (£71m) dam project in a Macedonian national park is expected to be scrapped after independent experts called for a halt to all funding and construction work because of risks to critically endangered species, including the Balkan lynx. A Bern Convention mission to the Mavrovo national park reported that the planned hydropower dam there was “not compatible” with protection of the park’s status, ecosystems or species. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has put up €65m in loans for the project but its environmental guidelines forbid the funding of projects prohibited by the Bern Convention, a legally-binding pact between 51 states. MORE HERE.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) is calling on Britain’s fleet operators and local authorities to band together to create a new low-carbon market for heavy goods vehicles. The LowCVP has stated that independent testing of retrofit technology, a switch to natural gas and biomethane and supporting the transition to hybrid and pure EVs in urban environments are the three main opportunities the HGV market has to adopt a low carbon ethos. LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “In terms of road transport, most of the focus in recent years has been on cutting emissions from cars and buses.

Green energy provider Ecotricity has announced plans to build three new ‘hybrid’ renewable energy parks, combining wind and solar power generation in the same project. Hybrid renewable energy parks combine wind and solar power generation using the same grid connection to maximise efficiency and reduce initial costs.

The Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, according to a new scientific study. The extreme heatwaves will affect Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran as well as posing a deadly threat to millions of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, when the religious festival falls in the summer. The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence. “Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant [carbon cuts], is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,” said Prof Jeremy Pal and Prof Elfatih Eltahir, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change.
chinaHMteasueryThe UK and Chinese governments have signed an agreement to share knowledge and encourage investment in clean energy technologies in both countries. The Clean Energy Partnership will enable UK companies share their expertise in low-carbon innovation and secure new business in the Chinese energy market, the largest in the world. It is also hoped that the deal will encourage more investment in clean technologies, helping reduce costs to consumers in both countries. The deal came as part of a state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in which a number of other collaboration agreements were also announced, including investment in UK nuclear power, the first ever Chinese investment in the UK offshore wind market, and the establishment of joint offshore wind industry advisory groups. It has been pointed out that investment by the UK in its own renewables might be a wiser option …….

Construction of a £1.5bn windfarm off the Suffolk coast is to go ahead in November with the creation of nearly 800 jobs, after three new partners were found to back the project. The future of the Galloper windfarm was left in doubt last year when energy company SSE pulled out of the project, blaming the cost, and the subsidy regime. The remaining partner, RWE Innogy, halted work. But RWE Innogy announced on Friday that Siemens Financial Services and the investment and financial services group Macquarie Capital, along with the UK government’s Green Investment Bank, had become joint 25% equity partners. Offshore wind is one of the few parts of the UK renewable energy sector to have emerged unscathed after a round of cuts to onshore wind and solar power subsidies since the majority Conservative government  took power in May.

 

ANOTHER PLANET?

parigi-570x350The United Nations (UN) has released a streamlined version of the negotiating text that will be used at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December. The new document, drawn up by two co-chairs for the talks – Algerian diplomat Ahmed Djoghlaf and US counterpart Dan Reifsnyder – has been cut down from 89 to 20 pages, in a bid to provide a more succinct starting point for final round of pre-Summit talks in Bonn, Germany, later this month. The text clarifies which elements of the Paris climate talks would be legally binding agreements and which elements will be given a more flexible approach with decisions that can evolve over time. Legally-binding elements include long-term global goals for halting and reducing global GHG emissions to a near-zero phase, which will be implemented by countries submitting carbon reduction plans every five years intensifying their efforts in the process. Crucially, the draft has removed any mention of the shipping and aviation sectors, despite ample warnings that emissions in these sectors could skyrocket by up to 250% by 2050 without tangible targets from governments. The draft also mentions climate finance, offering up the potential for any country to increase their pledge to provide $100bn a year after 2020. However, the emerging ideology of a carbon market has been largely ignored.

Virgin_atlanticEdie.net reports that twenty-eight chief executives and aviation association leaders have penned an open letter to global governments urging them to commit to a joint approach to help deliver emissions reductions across the sector. The letter, coordinated by the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), has been signed by executives of companies representing over 90% of the world’s air traffic with a combined revenue of nearly a trillion dollars. It calls on governments to work with aviation companies to introduce a meaningful market-based measure – which considers ‘fair and equitable solutions’ for all countries under a range of circumstances – to reduce aviation emissions.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron effectively ignored energy and climate change at the Conservative Party Conference, despite the crucial Paris climate talks being just a few weeks away. Giving his closing speech at the Conference in Manchester , Cameron reiterated that tackling climate change is “at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission” – his only ‘green’ mention. Instead, affordable homes, social mobility and an outspoken attack on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn took up the majority of Cameron’s hour-long speech. Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed plans to establish a new independent body to fast-track the building of new energy and transport infrastructure across the UK. The new National Infrastructure Commission will be led by Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis, Osborne said at the  Conference.

windturbines_300Onshore windpower is now the cheapest form of energy in Britain – but the Government continues to resist onshore turbines. New figures show they not only produce cheaper energy than coal, oil or gas power stations, but also remain far cheaper than offshore turbines. Onshore wind farms currently produce about 60 per cent of the UK’s wind power output. Although they are set to remain the predominant form of renewable energy in the next few years despite opposition in Westminster – which has stopped subsidies and given the final say on whether a project should go ahead to local residents – supporters of green energy say the country is missing a chance to maximise their potential. The cost of onshore wind power has fallen from $108 (£70.20) per megawatt hour (mWh) a year ago to $85 today, as they become more efficient and cheaper to build. Over the same period, coal-fired power stations have seen their costs rocket from nearly $98 mWh to $115 and gas from $100 to $114, after the EU agreed new rules that will greatly increase the amount they must pay for their carbon emissions. Offshore wind costs $175 mWh, according to the research, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. More on the Independent here. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has given her full backing for the cutting of subsidies for onshore wind and solar, insisting that “renewable energy can stand on its own two feet”. speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester Rudd said: “As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies. There is no magic money tree” adding “We said in our manifesto that we would halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind farms, and that’s exactly what we have done – this would have been impossible in the coalition” and “I support cutting subsidies – not because I am an anti-green Conservative, but because I am a proud green Conservative on the side of the consumer. We must be tough on subsidies. Only then can we deliver the change we need.” Ecotricity boss Dale Vince has accused the government of rigging the electricity market, by showering fossil fuels and nuclear power with huge subsidies, while taxing renewables and insisting they must ‘stand on their own two feet’. One of the pioneers of the United Kingdom’s renewable energy industry says the British government is distorting the market in an attempt to support fossil fuels and nuclear power. As news broke that two major UK solar companies, Climate Eneregy who installed solar panels, insulation and energy efficient boilers, and solar panel installer Mark Group, had gone out of business with over 1,000 jobs lost, the government subsequently confirmed it would delay the deadline for ending the wind subsidy. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has denied that subsidy cuts were responsible for the collapse of two solar panel installers in as many days, blaming the company failures on “commercial decisions”.   http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2985752/uk_rigging_power_market_against_clean_energy.html

Wind energy drove £1.25bn of investment into Britain’s economy last year, with the industry now employing 30,500 people, according to a new report from RenewableUK. The ‘Wind Energy in the UK’ report reveals that wind power has grown to generate 10% of the UK’s electricity needs, as more than 2GW of capacity was installed in 2014/15 – a growth of 18%, bringing total UK capacity to over 13GW. The study breaks down the expenditure in the industry, with £840m spent on offshore technology and a further £402m spent on onshore. Together, the two sectors provide 15,500 direct and 15,078 indirect jobs.
Africa could generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 if they were to follow guidelines laid out in a new report from the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA). The Africa 2030 report is part of IRENA’s global REmap 2030, which outlines methods to double the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix by 2030. More here.

The BBC has apologised for airing a half-hour radio show earlier this year in which a series of high-profile climate sceptics lined up to disparage the science behind global warming. What’s the point of the Met Office, aired in August, did not make clear sceptics are a “minority voice, out of step with scientific consensus,” the corporation said in an email to climate scientist Andy Smedley. “This was an unfortunate lapse for which we apologise and we would like to assure you we remain committed to covering all aspects of the subject in the most accurate and responsible way possible.” Presented by Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts, the show featured Peter Lilley MP, Graham Stringer MP, forecaster Piers Corbyn and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayers’ Alliance. All had previously questioned the veracity of climate science. They took the opportunity to mock the Met Office over its weather forecasting and climate modelling work.

The Mayor of Krakow has told the Guardian he will introduce a ban on coal use in households, offices, government buildings and restaurants after an amended Environmental Protection Act was signed by the country’s president, Andrzej Duda. Poland’s second largest city is as famed for the filthy smog that cakes its buildings and streets, as for its beautiful historic buildings. The European Environmental Agency has ranked it the third most polluted city in Europe and its particulate matter (PM) pollution can reach six times the safe levels.

Wildlife is abundant around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, despite the presence of radiation released by the world’s most catastrophic nuclear explosion nearly three decades ago, researchers have found. The number of elk, deer and wild boar within the Belarusian half of the Chernobyl exclusion zone today are around the same as those in four nearby uncontaminated nature reserves. Wolves, which are commonly hunted in the region because of their impact on livestock, were seven times as abundant with the zone, according to a new study.

Scotland’s renewable energy sector displaced 12.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year – a 120% increase since 2010, new data has revealed.
The figures were published in response to a recent Parliamentary Question tabled by Callum McCaig and answered by UK Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. They confirm that renewable energy projects – including wind, hydro and solar schemes – prevented the release of more than a million tonnes of CO2 per month in 2014. Twenty six million tonnes of carbon was displaced by the renewables industry in England, along with 2.2 million tonnes in Wales. More on edie.net here.

Last week, Poland became the fourteenth country in Europe to ban GMOs. One week later, the list of countries against genetically engineered crops has grown, with an estimated 17 EU nations in favor of boycotting GM maize and Monsanto altogether. Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, announced that the country of Wales will take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing Eu-authorized GM crops. She says that the nation plans to ban GM corn as well as 7 other GM crops authorized by the EU. In a press release shared by Greenpeace, it is relayed that at least 17 EU countries and four regions (in two other countries) are in the process of banning the cultivation of GM crops on their territories. The cut-off for nations to join the opt-out was October 3 of this year. By October 5, thirteen EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland) and four regional administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, and Wallonia in Belgium) had formally notified the Commission of their intention to ban GM crop cultivation. Read More HERE.

african-elephant2A Chinese woman dubbed the “ivory queen” for her alleged leadership of one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings has been captured and charged. Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling 706 elephant tusks worth £1.62m from Tanzania to the far east. The Elephant Action League, a US-based campaign group, described her as “the most important ivory trafficker ever arrested in the country”. The 66-year-old is said to have been a crucial link between east African poaching syndicates and buyers in China, where ivory is prized for ornamental use, for over 14 years. Tanzania’s national and transnational serious crimes investigation unit had been tracking Glan for more than a year, according to the Elephant Action League.

The development of modular water sanitation infrastructure; an iron-deficiency educational programme and a water-saving shower have been announced as the three winning ideas from Unilever’s global innovation crowdsourcing campaign. The Unilever Foundry campaign, launched in June this year, encouraged peer-to-peer collaboration to create solutions to sustainability issues in the areas of sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. One hundred and fifty ideas were submitted across the three categories. “The Unilever Foundry ideas platform enables the general public to share ideas and develop solutions which help to make sustainable living commonplace,” explained Unilever’s senior vice president of sustainable business development and communications Sue Garrard. “Good ideas can come from anywhere, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the initial response to the three launch challenges. In addition to recognising and celebrating these ideas, we’re now looking at how we can support these innovators to bring these ideas to life.” The winner of Improving Access to Sanitation category was Saurabh Saraf’s, whose ‘Waterhubs’ idea involves the development of a modular water and sanitation infrastructure that will provide resource recovery, water treatment and shower and laundry services for urban slums. in the Imaging the Shower of the Future category, Yehuda Goldfisher’s winning idea involved a shower solution which incorporates two buttons: the first button wets the body before soaping, while the second button introduces a longer burst of water to wash the soap off while restricting water consumption.
Work on building the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has been delayed to spring 2017 because the government is taking “longer than expected” to finalise a contract for difference (CfD), Tidal Lagoon Power has said. A spokesperson for the firm said it would be ready to build once the remaining permissions have been secured and financial close with investors is achieved.

great barrierThe Guardian reports that cientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. For coral scientists such as Dr Mark Eakin, the coordinator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch programme, this is the cataclysm that has been feared since the first global bleaching occurred in 1998.

babyorangFires raging across the forests and peatlands of Indonesia are on track to pump out more carbon emissions than the UK’s entire annual output, Greenpeace has warned. As well as fuelling global warming, the thick smoke choking cities in the region is likely to cause the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region and is also destroying vital habitats for endangered orangutans and clouded leopards with the drifting smoke also provoking protests from neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The fires are mostly started deliberately and illegally to clear forest for paper and palm oil production, benefitting from recent droughts.

UK Government thinks green is a ‘has been’

SOLAR POWERThe UK government has announced it is to cease funding for the Green Deal, spelling the end for its flagship energy household efficiency programme. The scheme offers cashbacks and incentives on such things as double-glazing, insulation and boilers.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said it took the decision to protect taxpayers, citing low take-up and concerns about industry standards. Labour said ministers’ approach to energy efficiency had been a “failure”. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it would work with the building industry and consumer groups to agree a new “value-for-money approach”. Future schemes needed to provide better value for money, and support the goal of insulating one million more homes and the government’s commitment to tackle fuel poverty, it said. The announcement comes a day after the government said it would be consulting on whether to end subsidies for many new solar farms.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it was to consult on closing support for new solar farms under 25 acres in size by April next year. It argued that scrapping the renewables obligation scheme for smaller projects would help bring down the cost of solar subsidies to bills, currently running at £3 per household. Other measures  included removing the guaranteed level of subsidy for biomass conversions. Critics rounded on the proposals, suggesting they would hit investment in clean energy and jobs. But the DECC said: “Reducing energy bills for hard working British families and businesses and meeting climate goals in the most cost effective way are Government priorities.

Announcing an end to future funding of the Green Deal Finance Company, which delivers the scheme, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We are on the side of hardworking families and businesses – which is why we cannot continue to fund the Green Deal.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “This proposed cut to support for solar is utterly short-sighted saying “While the Government continues to subsidise fossil fuels and nuclear, it’s undermining investor confidence in clean, renewable energy generation.

Nuclear Dumping in the UK – near to YOU soon?

bikeNuclear dumping ANYWHERE in the UK?? The Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geologial Disposal Facilities) Order 2015 is being debated in the Lords today (Weds 25 Feb), and if passed, it will allow central govt to force ANYWHERE in England to accept nuclear waste being dumped in boreholes, without any consent by local people. Currently local councils can veto this, and they have, in the past, so the Government is going to take that power away from them, so that they can’t do anything about it. Cumbria rejected dumping at the edge of the Lake District much to the Governments annoyance. So they want to change the law. Many people think that the logical extension of this is that boreholes which have been made for fracking will be used as nuclear dumps afterwards. The Infrastructure Act allows “any substance” to be left in fracking wells without our consent. Please spread the word about this and contact any Lord to ask them not to approve this Order. Twitter is a good way, but you will be able to find their email addresses on the Govt website too (http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-a-lord/ 

ANOTHER PLANET?

floodIt’s now officially the wettest January in the south of England since records began. From Kent to Devon – it’s been a wet one – and now military planners are carrying out a recce on the Somerset Levels, the Ministry of Defence has said, after the government ordered the army to help flood-stricken residents and businesses. Experts are spending the morning surveying the Levels and working out how they can help the emergency services, local authorities and other agencies. Once that assessment is complete they will sit down with county council chiefs and draw up a plan. The government has said marines and soldiers may help to deliver food and supplies, ferry around stranded villagers, and lay out more sandbags in preparation for the weekend, when more rain and a high tide could cause more flooding. The Red Cross have already provided a Unimog vehicle to drive through flooded areas and reach cut off settlements with heavy goods that cannot be carried by boats . Heavy rain and high winds were forecast for the first weekend in February. Glastonbury Festival boss Michael Eavis whose Worthy Farm is just a few miles from the Levels said that the problems was that money previously spent on dredging rivers had been diverted into conservation at the behest of organisations such as the RSPB (according to the Times). Eavis had previously campaigned to raise £4 million to dredge rivers – the Environment Agency has said it can only partially fund dredging. Wildlife groups have suggested that farmland should be abandoned and that dairy farming was not suitable for large parts of the Levels, with commentators saying that “people living slap in the middle of the flood plain’ should be paid to move” and that intensively farmed land should be reverted to flood resilient grasslands and nature reserves. Whilst the first official weather records began in 1910 – records from the Radcliffe Meteorological Station at Oxford University recorded more January rainfall since its own records began in 1767 – nearly 250 years ago.

prince charlesPrince Charles has called climate change sceptics the “headless chicken brigade” during an awards ceremony recognising a leading young green entrepreneur. Prince Charles, who has campaigned for years to reduce global warming, also spoke out against “the barrage of sheer intimidation” from powerful anti-climate change groups during the event held at Buckingham Palace last night where Gamal Albinsaid won the inaugural Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize. Mr Albinsaid is the founder of the Indonesian social enterprise Garbage Clinical Insurance, an innovative project which helps the poorest communities gain access to health services and education through the collection and recycling of rubbish.

Mutant bees that act like “a sort of a combination of zombies and aliens mixed together” and which first surfaced in the North East of the US are spreading along the West coast of North America. The bees are infected by fly called the Apocephalus borealis, which lays eggs in honeybees that hatch and then eat the host’s body from the inside out, causing havoc. The disease causes the bees to behave like zombies before it drives them out of their hives and kills them within a few hours.

The spectacular migration of millions of Monarch butterflies from the USA and Canada to mexico is facing a new problem – vast areas f GM crops that can be sprayed with weedkiller means that milkweed – a primary foodstuff for the beautiful butterflies’ larvae – is being eradicated. Monarchs are at their lowest levels since 1993.

Shell has suspended its $5 billion Alaskan exploration programme saying the group will withdraw from environmentally and politically sensitive  programmes including North American shale gas andoli sands  – but only because of a shock profits warning two weeks ago.

PenguinPenguins are suffering from climate change according to two new scientific studies – with heatwaves killing Magellanic penguin chicks in Argentina, and Adelie penguins in Antarctica are finding it harder to feed as melting sea ice fragments to form giant icebergs

Mohammed Hussein, a 38-year-old from The Drive in Peterborough, has been fined £500 with £525 court costs after he decided to dramatically prune a tree in his garden – that was subject to a preservation order – he had removed around half the branches from the 50ft horse chestnut in his front garden before a neighbour contacted the council, who took him to court. Preservation orders are applied to trees which are considered to be important to the character of the area. When a tree is covered by an order you cannot take it down or damage it – or indeed touch it in any way without the permission of the council.

In the USA an anti-fracking activist has been barred from 312.5 sq miles of Pennsylvania – the court injunction brought in by oil and gas company even makes supermarkets and restaurants off-limits for Vera Scroggins. Judge Kenneth Seamans barred her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennslvania natural gas company, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. Cabot said it holds leases on 200,000 acres of land, equivalent to 312.5 sq miles. That amounts to nearly 40% of the largely rural county in north-eastern Pennsylvania where Scroggins lives and where Cabot does most of its drilling. In the five years since fracking came to north-eastern Pennsylvania, Scroggins has been relentless in trying to exposing the risks associated with the industry and has organised bus tours of frack sites for anyone who is interested – including Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon and visiting Canadian elected officials.

In the UK energy Minister Greg Barker has said that true greens should embrace fracking. Barker says ideological convictions rather than sound science motivates anti-fracking campaigners saying “If you are really against climate change, then to be anti-fracking is incredibly dangerous,” he said. This was because coal-fired power generation could be replaced with gas, which burns with lower carbon dioxide emissions. “The knee-jerk reactions to fracking is [based on] ideology, it’s not science-based.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving said that it will allow the hunting of shark species known to attack man – including the Great White and the Tiger shark, Australia now said plans to cull saltwater crocodiles. Police and rangers are hunting a crocodile that snatched a 12-year-old boy from a northern Australian waterhole, with shoot-to-kill orders for any creature longer than two metres and fresh calls for a cull.  Saltwater crocodiles can grow up to seven metres long, weigh more than a tonne, and are a common feature of Australia’s tropical north. Their numbers have increased steadily since the introduction of protection laws in 1971, with government estimates putting the population at 75 000 to 100 000 as their habitat  has extended into proximity with humans – recently being seen at the popular resort of Broome.  Western Australia  decided to capture and kill sharks that come within a kilometre of the state’s coast and which are over 3M long . With the Federal Government’s approval, the scheme involves shooting sharks longer than 3m caught in strategically placed “drum lines”. The cull was introduced following seven fatal shark attacks in the state in the past three years – but now faces opposition with 15 protests planned and celebrities including Sir Richard Branson,  comedian Ricky Gervais and diver Tom Daley have added their voices to the anti-cull campaign. Great white sharks are so imperiled that they are on the World Wildlife Fund’s “10 Most Wanted” list. A poll undertaken by UMR Research showed that 82 per cent of Australians think the sharks should not be killed and that people use the ocean at their own risk.

The build-up of ‘circular’ supply chains that increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture could generate more than $1trn (£600bn) a year for the global economy by 2025, according to a new report. The report, by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and released in Davos, calls for companies to understand the opportunities available through a circular business model.  The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has alsp announced plans to develop a metric tool that can measure how effective a product or company is in making a transitional shift towards a circular economy – it should be ready by 2015.

Philips global president and CEO Frans van Houten has emphasised the increasing value of electronic waste, arguing that it could provide a richer source of gold than mining if recovery efforts were stepped up.

Wembley Stadium has become one of the first national stadiums to be certified to ISO 14001, the international standard for the implementation of Environmental Management Systems. Since the new Stadium opened in 2007, the management team has been working on implementing changes in the operation of the stadium and infrastructure to improve environmental performance.

Busineses in Scotland have been told to ensure their operations take into account environmental risk, following an incident where thousands of litres of whisky polluted the River Ayr. The message from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) comes after Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd was fined £12,000 at Ayr Sheriff Court last week for failing to prevent the spillage of 6,600 litres of whisky spirit, of which approximately 5,000 litres of 67% strength entered the River Ayr.

Edie.net reports that the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to slash 80,000 pages of environmental guidance by March 2015, in an effort to save businesses around £100m per year. In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses, Cameron said more than 3,000 rules will be cut or amended, saving more than £850m a year.  Rules that fall under the Prime Minster’s plan include 380 pages of waste management rules, 640 pages of cattle movement guidance and 286 pages of hedgerow regulations.

great barrierAnd finally – and again from Australia – ahhh the folly of man: Having suffered some of the planet’s most extreme weather over the last few years – extreme heat, long term drought and severe flooding – you might have thought Australian politicians should have started to take note of the environment – and climate change. Well think again: In Northern Queensland there are plans to dump vast amounts of sediment inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – as part of plans to expand the Abbot Point coal port. Whilst Greg Hunt, the Environment Minister said that measures would be in place to protect the sensitive ecology of the Reef, campaigners are alarmed that damage will be done to the World Heritage site  – not helped by Queensland’s premier, Campbell Newman, reportedly saying “we are in the coal business – if you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat – you have to understand that”.